Credit for this prowess goes to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which opened its Robotics Institute in 1979 to address the decline of the steel and aluminum industries. In fact, CMU considers itself the birthplace of self-driving cars, starting with the “Terregator” mobile robot in 1984. In 2007, a CMU racing team won the $2 million DARPA Urban Challenge race with a self-driving SUV named Boss.
A generation of CMU graduates has since advanced the city’s AV sector, which comprises both established companies and startups, and today employs about 3,000. According to Donald F. Smith, Jr., president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RIDC), many of those companies are “in aggressive growth mode” and that number that could eventually rise to over 10,000.